Saturday, November 20, 2010

Payment on a bet.

Back in September, Iowa beat Penn State soundly. My son-in-law is a Penn State fan. He was warned that, in marrying my daughter, he was getting a mother-in-law who bets on the outcome of football AND basketball games. I never bet money. I bet food. When I was in Connecticut to visit, he paid up.

The mug you see has the face of the Cheshire cat from "Alice in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll. When the mug was new, the cat was blue. You added a hot beverage to the mug and the cat disappeared, leaving only the smile. I have another mug just like this. I use it to hold the tea strainer for leaf tea. I'm thrilled. I now have one mug to drink out of and one mug that holds the loose tea I'm using to make tea.

What David didn't know is that the Cheshire cat holds a special significance for me. In order to get my BA in English, I had to write a senior paper. It had to be a minimum of 20 pages and cite at least 5 sources. Our last semester of college included "Senior Seminar", a class which looked at how to write a research paper as well as examined modes of literary criticism. I wrote my senior thesis on language in Lewis Carroll's "Alice Through the Lookingglass and What She Found There", which is the story's correct title.

Back then, we had to provide 5 copies in the library for English department staff and other English majors to read. You had to "defend" your paper from questions from the department staff. They did not shoot you what would be termed "low-ball" questions. They looked for flaws in your thesis. You had to say why you chose that topic and why you chose your sources. It was a nerve-wracking experience. Underclassmen were encouraged to read the papers and prepare questions so that's why you needed more than one copy in the library.

Usually, you took one copy to the copy department and paid to have your paper copied. I used carbon paper and typed all the copies I put in the library to be read. I remember a lot of late nights at the kitchen table pounding away on a manual typewriter. Somewhere in the basement is the finished product. I kind of miss that, the construction of a thesis, the research, the study, the crafting of the finished product.

Thank you David, for making good on the bet and for accidentally reminding me of a rather fun time in my life. Every time I drink from the mug, it will bring back warm memories.

Beverage: Lapsang Souchong tea


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